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Voting proceeds with few glitches statewide

SHARE Voting proceeds with few glitches statewide

Elections in northern Utah got off to a rainy start Tuesday as a projected record number of voters braved the weather to cast their ballots in what has been labeled a historic race for president, as well as many local races.

Polling places across Utah opened on time and reported a steady stream of voters and only minor glitches.

An equipment problem knocked out electricity for about 2,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers in the eastern foothills of Salt Lake City. The 10:45 a.m. outage left two polling places in two churches without power, although voting was not interrupted, Salt Lake County chief deputy clerk Jason Yocom said.

Voting machines can run on battery power for a few hours, and generators were sent as a backup in case the power outage lasted into the afternoon, Yocom said.

Polling places across the county had opened on time Tuesday and were otherwise running smoothly, Yocom said.

Among the glitches, a voter from Glendale Middle School reported being concerned about privacy. She said that, although there were privacy screens on the sides of the voting machine, there was no privacy behind her, and she was worried that friends, neighbors and church members would see her choices. She also said she thought poll workers could view her ballot.

A problem with a voting machine concerned another voter. In an e-mail sent to the Deseret News, the voter said he had a difficult time choosing candidates whose names were on the lower left side of the screen. The e-mail said poll workers told him the machine needed to be calibrated. The voter was able to choose the correct candidate, and poll workers said it would get fixed.

At the Eastlake Elementary School in South Jordan, one voter said 200 to 250 people were waiting in line to vote at 11:15 a.m.

"There was one line to sign in and one line to vote," the voter said, adding that the entire process took about one hour.

Generally, though, voting in Salt Lake County has "been really smooth," according to a county official.

A voter from unincorporated Utah County, who votes in the Saratoga Springs district, said that in the past, because she isn't a resident of Saratoga Springs, she wasn't allowed to vote for any Saratoga Springs leaders or initiatives. However, this election, she said she was given the option to vote to raise taxes for Saratoga Spring's residents to so they can get Utah Transit Authority service.

Voters lined up early at American Fork High School in Utah County, according to one report. Approximately 100 early voters waited outside, lined up from the doors to the parking lot. A report of an access card malfunction was reported, but the voter got a new card and was able to vote.

In Davis County, an official said voters were lined up at polling places early, but after the initial run, voter numbers leveled out. At Lincoln Elementary in Layton, about 50 people waited for the polls to open.

Washington County Elections Clerk Melanie Abplanalp said there was little waiting at the county's 42 polling places. Abplanalp said voters were on track for a 70-plus percent turnout. About 27 percent of voters had cast their ballots early. Washington County has 72,856 registered voters.

Aside from a few glitches with laptops being used by poll workers, Abplanalp had had only one voter complaint by midday Tuesday.

"We had one overzealous poll manager who announced it was quicker if people voted straight party," Abplanalp said. "We contacted her and let her know that, of course, as a poll manager that that is always inappropriate."

Yocom said the hours before and after work are typically the busiest at polling places on Election Day. He encouraged voters to hit the polls during the middle of the day, if they can, when things are slower and to avoid in the winter storm that's coming in.

Utah polls close at 8 p.m.

E-mail: lwilde@desnews.com